(This is the fourth story in the series following on from 'Runt', 'Chris', 'Life on the Verge')

Playing Away

Time, they say, is the best storyteller. Certainly it's the only way in which the outcome of events can be truly realised. When Rick and I decided to live together, we had no idea what the outcome would be. We were both eighteen, and in both our cases this was our first real relationship. So when Rick's father offered to put up the money for a flat in Feltenham, money we would have to pay back of course in the long term (and we saw it as very long term) without interest, we jumped at the chance.

"What do you say, Chris?" asked Rick, eyes sparkling in what was evidently gleeful expectation.

"Yes. Yes. Oh, yes," I said.

We had been 'going out' (if I can use that rather old-fashioned phrase) for six months by then, and though there'd been a couple of sticky moments caused actually by mix-ups or confusion over that period, we thought we'd make a go of it. We were influenced probably by our testosterone rather than our brains but, at that age, who the hell cares? I've described him before but I'll do it again, because I love him, I think. Physically quite stocky, a face, much younger looking than his developed figure suggested. Fresh-complexioned with freckles around his nose. His mouth shows white teeth. When he smiles immediately his rather ordinary looking face is attractive in a masculine way. His eyes are green. The turned-up ends of his mouth make comma-shaped dimples just under his cheek bones.

The flat was on the first floor, small, tiny in fact, and consisted of two bedrooms (one of which was not much bigger than a cupboard – but then we didn't intend to use it) a kitchen, bathroom/bog and a sort of other room, variously referred to as the lounge, the sitting/dining room (by the estate agent), the front room and occasionally the work room. It was also called the sex room because that was often where most of our sex play started – and often finished there too. Though of course we didn't exclude the bedroom, and the bathroom, and in fact the kitchen on occasions.

Jack rabbits weren't in it. We were fucking and licking and frotting and rubbing and kissing and sucking and stroking and humping and blowing and jerking and probing and wanking and coming (oh yes, the coming!) like there was no tomorrow.

Except that there was a tomorrow but when that came we woke up (if we'd happened to be in bed) and immediately went back to doing the same things (or variations of them). After all we were young and full of hormones and the constant opportunities which we had been denied for so long were there and we took full advantage of them. I kid you not.

But I guess you don't want to hear about that.

The flat was in Feltenham, the nearest biggish town to our home village of Elmcombe. Of course I knew Feltenham quite well; I even had my hair done there, but living there was different from visiting. The traffic outside was heavy and though, when we drew the curtains in the evening, we could still hear it rumbling by – so different from the quietness of the countryside. But it was exciting living in what we, perhaps naively thought was a big city.

At the time I was working as a builder's labourer and Rick was an engineering apprentice, specialising in the design of 'permanent way (trackform and alignment), bridges and tunnels, passenger stations, freight terminals, maintenance and support facilities, and embankments and cuttings' (in other words 'railways'). Rick had learnt the job spec off by heart and I did too and trotted it out proudly if anyone asked what my friend, Rick Harrison did.

My own job was nothing like as impressive and I was determined to get out of the 'tea boy/plaster mixer' rut as soon as possible, but had no idea what I could do. At one time a friend of mine, Kenneth Spiller, a 'real' author who had had his books published, suggested that I might actually be a writer myself and I had started a sort of novel, based on my own life experiences which he had praised. Unfortunately, since meeting up with Rick, my 'authorial career' had been relegated to the back burner because of other more pressing 'burning' desires. Quite coarsely I preferred to roger rather than write, screw rather than scribe. (Rick saw I'd written this and told me it wasn't really all that clever – but I'm leaving it in, at least for the present.)

One evening after Rick returned from work. "I've got to go on a course in Southampton for four days," he said.

I worked it out quickly. "That's three nights away," I said. "I won't be able to cope."

Quite rightly, Rick ignored my whining. "It's on mathematics and engineering science," he said, and went on using words I didn't understand and concepts I couldn't recognise.

"Three nights," I said eventually when he stopped.

"You can do some writing. It's ages since you did any."

I was about to whinge on but then I realised he was right. "You'll phone me every evening?" I said.

"Of course." He came and sat by me on the sofa and things fell into place as usual so that I forgot for a while that I'd soon be missing him.

And miss him I did, especially after the evening phone call, but I managed to turn that aching feeling into words and stopped feeling sorry for myself. Once started I found my writing ability returned and there was no stopping me. The words just flowed out, my experiences, my feelings, my 'adventure' with Dominic until I suddenly realised it was past midnight and I felt exhausted. In the morning it would probably read like the worst crud possible but at least I'd been writing again.

Bed was desperately lonely. I stretched out my hand and felt nothing except the cold sheets. I wondered how Rick was feeling, whether he too missed the warmth of another body and then called myself stupid. Of course he did.

Without the usual excuse for staying in bed I was up early in the morning. Over toast, marmalade and tea, I decided that last night's writing hadn't been too bad. In fact I wanted to carry on but of course bossman, Jas, would pick me up in the van and take me off to what I now considered this pointless job with no prospects.

A bit depressed I joined up with the gang and even Alf noticed that I wasn't at my brightest and best. For once though he didn't lay the blame on my losing my boyfriend, for which I was grateful.

Rick rang me early that evening.

"How you doing? he asked.

"Missing you."

"Apart from that?

"Lonely," I said.

"So am I."

"At least you've got company. Well, I assume so."

"A few guys here on the course."


"Not when I compare them with you," he said – all the right things. "If you're lonely, why don't you drop in on the club?"

"And if I meet someone?"

"You'll say, sorry but I'm already spoken for – and leave him with a broken heart."

"I love you," I said.

"Only one more day," he said, "after tomorrow."

"And two more nights."

"All the better when I do see you."

And more of this vapid conversation which means so much to two people in a relationship but little to those outside.

The Olympia Club was Feltenham's only concession to the gay scene - if you discounted the public toilets on the edge of Clarence Park. It had a bar with some stools and a small square place where in the evening couples jumped around, sometimes in time to the music, and finished the evening grinding groins prior to dragging back if they were lucky. The decor was a strange mixture of the original Regency mouldings interspersed with some highly coloured murals showing scenes of idealised ancient Greek athletes with oversized private parts (very publicly displayed).

We had been several times before and it was a good place for letting your hair down with other like-minded gays. Rick had put the idea into my head and I decided I'd go.

By the time I got to the Club, it was crowded. The small square dancing area was packed with couples, gyrating more or less in time to the music, a song which, two months before, had been in the charts or at least played on Radio One. Various 'young men' of assorted ages jostled at the bar and tried to catch the attention of Nick, the barman who was on his own and struggling rather. The atmosphere was full of smoke and redolent with a heady combination of sweat and body-splash. In the shadows drugs were on sale, 'disco biscuits' probably, or at least so I assumed when I saw some shifty looking individuals handing over something in exchange for notes.

I looked around for a familiar face.

Then I saw him, a grey haired man still slim and attractive was sitting in one of the chairs around the side of the room. It was Ken Spiller, the man, who if anyone, had persuaded me out of my personal closet, the one that bound me with repressions of shyness and inferiority, and had allowed me to admit to myself that I wasn't a complete moron, that I had a future, even if as yet undetermined, in front of me.

I went up to him. "Ken," I said.

He turned and smiled. "Chris. Didn't expect to find you in a sink of iniquity like this."

"Where's Dominic?"

Ken nodded to an empty seat next to him but didn't answer the question.

"Really good to see you," he said "How's your writing getting on?"

"Fits and starts," I said.

"'Twas ever thus with me. But keep at it. It gets easier after a while."

"Where's Dom?" I repeated. I seemed to be experiencing a sort of reversed
déjà vu, if it's possible to have such a thing. My questioning reminded me of when I was quizzing Dominic about the whereabouts of Ken when I was under the mistaken belief (gained from a low grade medium) that I was getting messages from Ken from beyond the grave.

"Where's Dom?" I asked for the third time feeling a bit like a record that had got its needle stuck in its track.

"He's very fond of you," said Ken.

"And I like him," I said, feeling some sort of response in like vein was expected. And I did like Dominic, had almost fallen in love with him that first time I'd met him as he came charging in from racing across the fields with Ken's dog, Shannon. "Left him in the shop on his own, have you?"

Ken and Dominic were booksellers in that strange little anomaly that is totally English (or rather Welsh as Hay on Wye lies just over the border) of a town devoted almost entirely to the buying and selling of second-hand books.

"I wouldn't mind, you know," said Ken. "He always comes back to me and we have a sort of understanding."

I felt completely confused and then suddenly the penny dropped. Ken was offering Dominic for sex, giving me permission as it were.

Dead on cue two people arrived out of the crowd on the dance floor. One was Dominic, dark hair bleached at the tips, expertly done so that it looked natural. Dark eyebrows, the left one raised slightly, quizzically so that I knew he saw everything, life, love, the Stock Market, the glass of Stella, was a universal mischief and could be treated with equal lack of seriousness. He was dragging by the hand a guy with bleached blond hair and eye make-up.

"Ken, this is . . ." he started to say and then saw me – and stopped. "Chris! Fancy meeting you."

He dropped the blond guy's hand and kissed me on the lips. I could smell his expensive perfume and feel the heat that came from his body. The blond guy looked daggers at me.

"Ken," said Dominic. "Look after this sweetie for me while I whisk Chris onto the dance floor. You don't mind," he said to the blond who obviously did, "but Chris is an old friend I haven't seen for ages."

I gave Ken a helpless look as I was pulled into the swirling throng, went spinning into the vortex of dancing bodies with the smells of desire and the touches of naked flesh so that my senses whirled. Soon, though, Dominic held me close and I could feel his body, and his excitement pressing into me. He was whispering in my ear. At first I could only feel the soft breath but then I heard the words. "I want you, Chris. I want you naked against me. I want to be inside you." His hands grasped my buttocks and his fingers probed between the crack so that I knew where he wanted to go. He rubbed his groin against mine in time with the music and our pricks made swordplay.

"Dominic," I said or at least attempted to say but it came out in a groan. I tried to say more but his lips had fastened onto mine and his tongue roamed inside my mouth playing cats cradle. One of his hands was on the back of my head holding me there while the other still clasped my buttocks, a finger probing my arsehole. Spitted I was both fore and aft, literally top and bottom.

Did I think of Rick? Hard to say at the time, even harder to think of anything except the passion of the moment. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard a voice say, "I think this is a ladies' excuse me?"

Dominic's blond friend come to reclaim his quarry.

"Haven't finished yet," said Dominic.

But I had.

I detached myself and returned to Ken who had been watching the scene with an expression of wry amusement. He raised his beer glass to me, almost as a salute.

"I already have a friend," I said.

Ken nodded understandingly. "In the first flush of love?"

"Something like that," I said. "Tell Dom I'm sorry. And I don't want to come between you and him."

"Talking of double entendres . . ."

I left for home and back to our tiny flat made doubly large by my lack of companion.

In bed I thought about what Ken had said, what Dominic had done and how I had reacted. I'd always admired Ken, considering him wise, the sort of person whose opinion I valued, whose advice I'd take into consideration if not actually obey without question. And yet he had been quite happy for me to have sex with Dominic – as long as Dom went back to him afterwards. Was this the way a relationship worked? Did the same apply to me and Dominic – and Rick?

I knew how I felt about Dominic, or at least how I felt when I was dancing with him, when he was kissing me, when I knew he wanted to fuck me. I knew the lust, the overpowering passion, and I would have done anything for him – or would I? I knew similar feelings with Rick, how, when we were in bed together, when his body was against mine, when his mouth closed on mine, when his cock grappled with mine or was inside me, or mine in him. But, there was a difference. Now I remembered Dominic and knew if I thought about him I'd get an erection and probably want a wank, but felt no uncontrollable longing for him. With Rick . . . away from him there was this great wanting, certainly for his body but also for him, for the way he smiled, for the way he touched me tenderly, for just hearing him about the flat, or the lift I felt when I heard his key in the lock and the loss I felt when he shut the door in the morning on his way to work.

This was the difference. Perhaps Ken had been the same once and had lost it or had to bargain with it to keep Dominic with him.

I could smell Rick's smell on the pillow next to mine and on the sheets – and this made it worse – or better, which ever way you look at it.

After a while, I fell asleep.

The following morning I pulled a sicky, phoning Jas to tell him how upset my stomach was and how I couldn't guarantee I'd be in control out on a job. He moaned, as he had every right to do, but accepted it.

"Of course you'll lose a day's pay," he said.

"I could expect nothing less, boss," I said. "Sorry, I must dash."

I had a plan for the day. Dressed in my smartest suit (in fact my only suit) and a clean shirt and tie, I went into the centre of town and the offices of the local paper, The Feltenham Journal. This was a large brick building with steps up to the double doors, imposing and slightly out of character. I suspected that it had originally been built for a much grander purpose than the offices of a local newspaper.

A young girl, younger even than me and looking as if straight out of school was at the reception desk.

I feared that I might be nervous and start stammering, an affliction I had suffered from for years, but speaking to a child who might have been in the Junior School did wonders for my confidence.

"I'd like to make enquiries about apprenticeships for journalism," I said.

She gave me a look and I gave her an encouraging smile. Then she started shuffling some papers in a drawer.

"Here's a handout," she said and passed me a printed list headed 'Qualities Necessary for a Journalistic Career'. I looked down the list. Nothing very fearsome there:

• a lively interest in people, places and events
• an ability to write in a style which is easy to understand
• good spelling, grammar and punctuation
• an appreciation of the part a local newspaper plays in the community
• a willingness to accept irregular hours
• an ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines
• determination and persistence

I think I had most of those.

"Then there's a form to fill in," she said and handed it to me. My heart sank. Under 'Qualifications' needed I saw heading the list the fearsome words: The usual entry requirements for newspaper journalism is a minimum of 5 GCSE passes (grades A-C) or equivalent. However, in recent years it has become rare for a trainee to come into the industry at this level. Over half the recruits are university graduates and many of the others have achieved at least two A Levels or equivalent. One of the passes at A Level or GCSE must be in English. A minimum of two A Levels or equivalent is often required for entry to a full time course.

Shit! Shit! Shit! I hadn't even taken my GCSEs at school.

I was though determined not to let the girl see my disappointment.

"I'll bring it back when I've filled it in," I said.

She gave me a patronising look which probably meant that she didn't even believe I could write but she said nothing. I made as dignified an exit as I could.

I walked back home feeling depressed. I had thought how I would tell Rick when he came home the following day how I'd dumped the old 'no prospects' job, got myself something really worth while, something I enjoyed – and now this. Complete failure. Talk about not counting chickens before they're hatched. I had planned on telling Rick with an air of triumph that he wasn't the only one who could better himself and me without benefit of a father's influence.

I tried to convey this in my writing. I had, after all, the rest of the day to fill. Was it worth it? Trying to write? A lonely occupation at the best of times and obviously now without any prospects of financial reward.

Rick was late ringing in the evening. He said that the last full day was always extended and he hadn't been able to get away before.

"I'll be with you tomorrow," he said, perhaps sensing my gloom, though I tried not to show it. "N-O-R-W-I-C-H."

I smiled at the old acronym – Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home.

"Or rather don't bother. I'll rip them off myself."

"Likewise," I said.

"Did you go to the club yesterday?" he asked.

"I did pop in."

"Anyone you fancied?"

"Well, Ken Spiller was there, but he's more of a friend."

"And Dominic?'

"Yes," I said, trying to be as vague as possible. "He was there too. He picked up a blond tart and nearly raped her in the middle of the dance floor."

"Not fair on Ken," he said.

I agreed, glad that the telephone hid my own blushes. Never again, I swore to myself would I allow myself to behave in that way, even to put myself in a position where I was alone with Dominic.

I tapped away at the word processor after we had made our tender farewells. Only one more night alone in that bed and tomorrow Rick would be back, would be waiting for me when I got home from work. I tried to put down my thoughts and feelings but they were too personal and I deleted them. Instead I wrote about my ambitions for the future. Even if I couldn't get an apprenticeship as a journalist, and it certainly looked as if that was impossible, I would find something else.

I was just about to decide it was bedtime when the doorbell rang. I looked at the clock on my computer, 11.15 pm, much too late for an ordinary caller. Could it be Rick? Something unexpected happened which meant he could return a day earlier and he'd mislaid his key. The bell rang again impatiently. I'd almost convinced myself that it must be Rick and ran downstairs to the front door, pulling it open to find standing on the front step, not Rick, but Dominic.

He seemed to be very very drunk.

He clung onto the door jamb as if he'd collapse if he let go.

"Chrissy," he said.

I hated being called Chrissy. Always have and Dominic knew it because I told him one time that was what the guys at work used to call me. But what with being pissed and all.

"Can I come in?" he said and sort of staggered forward.

Well, I'd just sworn to myself that I'd never allow myself to be alone with him again, but you know, I couldn't allow him to walk into the road and get knocked down by a bus, so I stood aside and he lurched in.

Relieved of the support of the door jamb, he almost toppled over and I had to grab hold of him round the waist. He fell against me and I almost collapsed under the weight but just about managed to hold up. There were two flights each of twelve stairs up to our flat and they looked as difficult to climb as a mountain, but, step be step, we managed it and at last I got him into the room where he crumpled onto the sofa looking up at me with a stupid, almost vacant stare.

I reverted to school mistress mode. "Coffee, I think. Dominic. How did you get yourself into this state?"

I went into the kitchen and started the coffee making. Suddenly I felt two arms wrapped round me and lips nuzzling the back of my neck. Clearly Dominic wasn't as drunk as he made out.

For the fraction of a moment I felt the old attraction but then I pushed him away. "Leave it, Dominic," I said, and meant it.

But he wasn't so easily diverted. His hands roamed down my body until they reached my groin which he cupped. I felt myself reacting. Not that I wanted to but my cock has a life of its own, especially when it's being fondled by expert fingers and an erect hardness is being pushed against my buttocks.

I wondered whether I was going to get raped and if it would be a willing, consensual rape but then I felt it was wrong. Here in our flat, Rick's and mine. It wasn't right and I didn't want it.

Again I pushed him away. :No, Dominic," I said and turned round.

He looked at me "You were willing enough last night."

"I didn't have much choice," I said. "Anyway it isn't fair on Ken." Or on Rick, I thought, though didn't say – after all Dominic knew nothing about Rick.

Dominic had a strange, rather strained look on his face. "Ken doesn't mind," he said. "We have an arrangement as long as . . ." He hesitated.

"You go back to him," I finished.

He stood there, swaying slightly, looking uncomfortable, quite unlike the self-confident Dominic I thought I knew.

"Go and sit down, I'll bring the coffee." I felt in charge for a change. He disappeared out of the kitchen.

As I poured the coffee into mugs, I wondered if there was anything wrong. Surely Dominic hadn't come round just for sex. Hay on Wye was over an hour's journey away and there was no certainty that I'd be in if that had been his intention. Dominic, though he might not be as drunk as he pretended, had certainly been drinking – I could smell it on him. And that was unusual for him. He'd drink the odd beer or glass or two of wine over a meal but nothing sustained.

When I took the coffee in, he was sprawled on the sofa. I gave him the mug and sat down in an armchair opposite. He took a sip, grimaced, and put the mug down on the coffee table next to the sofa.

"Sorry," I said, "it is pretty shitty. But it'll do you good."

He didn't answer.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Is there something wrong? Apart from the coffee that is."

His eyes were shut and then I realised he was crying. The tears emerged from under his eyelids and slipped down his cheeks. He made no attempt to stop them with his hands.

"Oh Christ," I said. "There is something the matter. What is it?" I'm a sucker for tears. Obviously brings out the mother in me. I wanted to sit by him, put my arms round him, say stupid things like 'It'll be all right. Just tell me what's wrong.'

So I did.

And I held him while he sobbed. Then he put his arms round me and laid his head on my chest. I thought for a moment that this was just an excuse, another play to get me sexed up, but this time was different. There was no overt groping, no kissing, just the crying and the holding as if he needed someone, something to hang on to.

"What is it?" I asked after a while. "Is something wrong with Ken?"

There was a snuffling sound and I hoped he wasn't blowing his nose on my designer shirt, an eighteenth birthday present from Rick. Then I realised that was unfeeling and I decided it could always be washed or dry-cleaned so I clasped him a bit more firmly and stroked his back.

"It's all over," he managed to get out.

I still didn't understand. Then I did. "You mean you and Ken?"

His head nodded furiously and there were more snuffling sounds. I despaired of my shirt. "What happened?"

"We had a row, over Eddie?"

"Eddie?" Did I know someone called Eddie?

"The guy I met last night." I remembered the blond with the makeup who had cut in, luckily for me, when Dom and I were dancing, if you could call it that.

"But I thought you and Ken had an 'arrangement'. It was OK if you went back to him."

"But I didn't. I went off with Eddie, and I forgot that Ken and I had come over in my car. I just left him, and he had to stay the night in a hotel. He was well pissed off."

I could imagine. "So when did you have the row?"

"When I got back to Hay this morning. Ken had bussed it back. Of course when I'd finished with Eddie, I remembered I'd left Ken and raced back. We had a blazing row."

"Over Eddie?"

"Not only Eddie. Everyone I'd been with. It seems it had really been hurting Ken, every time I went with someone else. He told me he couldn't put up with it any more – and we'd have to split."

"How did that make you feel?" I asked, falling into the role of a psychoanalyst, or psychiatrist or something (social worker probably).

"I love Ken," he said simply.

"A fine way you have of showing it." That was going too far but I was not best pleased. "All these others. I assume there were others."

He nodded into my chest. "They weren't important, just things to fuck."

I suppose that included me, though I didn't say anything. Eventually I said, "Finish your coffee."

He drank the stuff, then shuddered and said, "It's cold."

"You'll make it up. How long have you two been together?"

"Six years. Ever since I was nineteen."

"What about your parents? Didn't they freak out?"

"I don't think they ever really realised what it meant. They were friends with Ken and were pleased that I got on so well with him. It seemed natural to them that I should share a house with him, especially when we became business partners."

"They must be very innocent." I said.

"Or just understanding."

"He's a lot older than you."

"Twenty years. I guess that's the trouble. I never stopped loving him, just that the call of the flesh was too strong. Younger guys came onto me, and I couldn't resist."

I knew the feeling. I find resistance difficult too. "So what are you going to do?"

He looked at me hopelessly. "I don't know. We've got too much together, the house, the business, apart from everything he means to me. It was only when he told me to get out that I realised that."

He'd stopped crying now but he looked terrible. His face was drawn and exhausted.

"Why did you come here?" I asked.

He shrugged hopelessly. "I thought I could stay overnight, until I could sort things out. If that's all right with you."

"There is a spare room," I said, thinking of the cupboard sized bedroom which neither Rick nor I had ever used.

"Can't I sleep with you?" he asked. "I just want to hold someone."

Bad plan! I knew what 'holding' could lead to. "Not a good idea," I said. "You know I live with someone here. We're a couple."

He looked surprised. He obviously didn't know, but then of course, it was Ken I had told, and presumably in their last conversation, that sort of information hadn't come up.

"Where is he?" He looked around as if Rick might be hiding in a cupboard somewhere.

"Southampton," I said. "But he's coming back tomorrow. Probably early."

"It's all right, I'm not going to rape you."

So we carried on talking and I made more coffee, more successfully this time, and Dominic slept in the tiny bedroom while I lolled about alone in the expanse of the double bed.

He left early in the morning, and I hoped that he'd be able to make it up with Ken. Time alone would tell.

There were some caustic comments from Alf and Jas as I was pretty tired and could barely stop myself yawning the whole day. I knew I'd have to get another job. Luckily work ended a bit early and I was back in Feltenham by 3.30. They dropped me on the corner of the High Street. Food was essential. I had to get a meal ready for my returning guy – after what was presumably going to be a boisterous greeting. I called into Marks and Sparks and got some ready meals. They're quite good and don't taste like the usual added hydrogenated fat rubbish. A cooling fruit trifle confection would be good for afters. Trotting back with my arms laden with plastic bags and looking I'm sure like an unusually harassed housewife, I had to pass the Job Centre.

Out of habit I paused to glance at the array of cards advertising jobs in the window – and there I saw it. Tucked into the corner was a job advertisement for the Feltenham Journal. Not anything spectacular, like 'Journalist' or 'Editor' but what was essentially an office boy, no doubt tea maker, filing clerk, perhaps the dizzy heights of photo copying or even 'data entry' – in other words computer typing. I could do that, if I could withstand the no doubt cutting glare of the infant receptionist. Casting pride to the winds, I went in and, after a wait of about half an hour during which time I worried that Rick might have come home, seen no one was there and gone out again, managed to see a helpful woman who stared at me through thick spectacles but seemed to realise that I was enthusiastic. She made a call and told me to present myself for an interview the following morning. Oh dear, another day off from Jas and Co., but if I was successful I could say good-bye to mixing plaster for the rest of my life. I had ambitions; I was optimistic.

"Yes, yes," I said. "Thank you very much," and dashed off to prepare myself for my lover.

But I was too late. As I entered the flat someone flung himself at me from out of the living room door. Our bodies moulded into each other with a relaxed, unreserved familiarity. We knew every aspect of each other's bodies but there was still an excitement, enhanced today by the new situation, by Rick's return and my agony of loss.

All at once I felt an almost frenzied elation. I wrenched at Rick's pullover, pulling it over his head. I wanted the touch of skin on skin. I tore at my shirt and the buttons shot across the floor. Rick laughed at my eagerness but then was caught up in the intensity of the passion.

I took the initiative, kicking off my trainers, unzipping my jeans and pulling both them and my underpants off, flinging them aside. Then, deciding that Rick's undressing was too slow, I did the same for my lover, pulling down his trousers, revealing the firm, flat belly, the curly spring of pubic hair into which I buried my face, smelling the clean smell of soap and underneath the subtler, more arousing smell of man.

Rick's erection probed my chin, insistent, demanding attention and I grasped its hardness, gently ran my tongue tip from helmet to spear base before enclosing the head of his long prick in the warm, wet closeness of my mouth. I cupped his ballsack in my hands and delicately fingered the passage between his fork. Rick gave a low moan of pleasure and arched with his hips so that his prick filled my mouth.

"Move round," said Rick indistinctly but I understood. I swivelled my body so that it was above Rick's, my own cock imprisoned in Rick's mouth. His hands grasped my buttocks, a long middle finger probing into the secret fastness of my anus.

I lowered and raised myself so that our pricks were fucked by our mouths. Me in charge. Me dictating the rhythm, speeding the pulse. Then, as the excitement built up, the structure collapsed onto the carpet and we rolled onto our sides, two bodies coiled on the floor, naked as God intended, hands, tongues touching, caressing, stroking to a living flame the two elements of our separate beings, then the coming together in the orgasm.

I came with a great cry and Rick, more quietly, a second or two later.

Afterwards I gazed at the scattered groceries lying around. The trifle had suffered more than most but it would probably taste OK.

"I guess I'd better get us something to eat," I said. "You hungry?"

"Only for you," said Rick, kissing me on the mouth.

"We'll do it again later. First some food."

Rick sighed. "And I have to write up a report on the course." We busied ourselves on our separate tasks.

As I stood in the kitchen I looked fondly through the doorway of the living room at the figure of my lover crouched studiously at the table over his work. He was tapping away at the computer keyboard and the words streamed across the monitor screen. I admired the M-shape that his dark hair made at the nape of his neck. For a moment I paused to view the picture, framed as it was through the doorway. I saw the water-colour on the wall that Rick and I had chosen together, the light from the table lamp which shone on his silky-soft hair, the way it caught the angle of his cheekbone.

I was reminded of Roberta Flack's song, 'There's more to love than making love.'

And I remained optimistic. Rick was back. There was the interview tomorrow. It could mean the beginning of a new life.

Time alone will tell.


Date started: Sunday, December 16, 2007
Date Finished: Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Words: 6,300

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